I’m in Travel + Leisure Mag (June 17)

Good news!…

I’m in Travel + Leisure June 2017.

A couple of months ago one of their researchers contacted me about Shenzhen photos. Last year I spent a day in Shenzhen’s contemporary art centre; OCT Loft. I really love the ‘former industrial building’ becomes ‘contemporary art centre’ thing.

I think re-purposed industrial buildings hold a certain artistic commentary on life and hence provide an interesting contextual background to contemporary art.

I often enjoy art that makes surprising / interesting / thoughtful statements on life, a big part of which is work.

If you are into this kind of thing I also recommend Moganshan 50 in Shanghai. There is also Tate Modern in London, even if the art on display isn’t great, the former power station is a delight.

If you can find a copy of Travel + Leisure I recommend picking it up, the article on Shenzhen is fascinating, – I wish I had the author’s knowledge before I went.

This inspires me to research my destinations better in future, think like a journalist!

It’s tough to be commercially successful with travel photography – I am so delighted to get into a major magazine!

It’s especially awesome to contribute photographs to an article that focuses on the development of creative and artistic culture in modern China.

Portable Loft, Yangjae Citizens Forest, Seoul and; Fish in The Pool

I found the cutest local cafe in Seoul with the friendliest owners.

It’s called Portable Loft. They also have a craft / design store – Portable Lollipop.

I found their blog; you can see some pictures of Portable Loft and the owners plus their friends / family here http://blog.naver.com/jungurion/220896163629. The Lollipop website http://www.portablelollipop.com/

The cafe and store are located in Yangjae Citizen’s Forest; totally off the tourist route, but not far from Gangnam. About ten different buses from Gangnam pass by the area.

It was a lucky find, I happened to stay in an Airbnb apartment above the cafe for the week.

The owners don’t speak English, but despite that they made me feel super at home. Through pointing and gestures I managed to order their delicious hand drip coffee in the morning. They also have two draught craft beers on tap and a selection of other drinks.

The owners gave me one of their postcards which is based on a hand drawn sketch of the cafe. You will recognise the lady in the postcard and blog pictures by the distinctive hairstyle 🙂

Portable Loft really inspired me. If I were to have my own cafe / shop business this is pretty much the blueprint I’d love to create it based upon. Some of the charming features I loved were:

  • Hand chosen craft beers and hand drip coffee that show care and love for quality
  • Beautiful natural interior decoration – a little bit ‘Scandinavian wood feel’
  • They do have a food menu, but it’s literally one cooker behind the bar, so cute
  • A lot of customers appear to be friends and I saw groups come and enjoy relaxing and talking to the owners
  • The cafe and shop show an interest in art and design and they have built a really interesting collection of products.
  • They are off the beaten path so I think most of their customers are local or may come based on word of mouth etc. no unappreciative tourists!
  • They have a music system in one corner and they have a pile of vinyl and CDs next to it and their selection of music is beautiful. A lot of acoustic and calming sounds.

Talking of music I came across the fish in the pool by Hekuto Pascal album while sitting in Portable Loft. I didn’t know what it was, but realising it was Japanese I snapped a pic of an empty CD cover with Japanese text on it. I later found the album on Spotify:

This is some seriously beautiful music.

I’m slightly embarrassed to say this music actually brought me to tears a few times.

The album is mostly instrumental, but the final track has lyrics and there is something soft, sweet and magical about the melody and vocals. Perhaps there is an undertone of sadness. It’s a songs that makes me feel an appreciation for people and places, but also a sadness for lost opportunities and lost times.

Portable Loft is one of the reasons I love to travel. Forget the tourist checklist, I really appreciate the chance to see a corner of local culture and to meet people that care about art and design and customers.

I recently came across a book called Do / Design: Why Beauty Is The Key To Everything by Alan Moore.

It’s a great little book that takes about good design and why that matters in life. This resonates strongly with me and I think design along with community are two of the most important things that can bring enjoyment to everyday life.

Portable Loft hit’s both of these perfectly.

Lochs, Bothies and Blue Skies.

I was in the Cairngorms earlier today; a big national park in the highlands of Scotland. It was a beautiful and I’d love to share some pictures with you.

If you are unfamiliar with Scotland I’ll reveal the mystery of what a Bothy is!

This is the view of the Cairngorms from Aviemore; taken from the main road at the bottom of the village:

On the road up to Cairngorm you pass Loch Morlich; there are often ducks at play; a lot of them were slipping and sliding on the ice today.

The start of our short walk; the sunlight on the trees was beautiful today:

 

We arrived at a small loch, a few people were around and there was a little fun to be had in breaking off chunks of ice and sliding them across the loch; it makes a beautiful sound. My friend Angus featured below.

 

Just a little bit further along the walk we’ve got a bothy.

Scotland has quite a few bothies especially around the more remote areas. They are typically ruined cottages or similar buildings that have basic restoration to provide shelter for hill walkers and mountaineers. They are often maintained by charities.

We are talking super basic. A roof, a fireplace and a concrete floor. No water, heating, toilet etc.

That view tho:

I’ve got great memories of Bothies. I used to do quite a bit of hill walking with my dad when I was young and while we’d carry tents if we came across a bothy we’d sleep inside. A chance to hang up wet socks and boots and get a roaring fire going.

Back in the day you’d often meet some interesting characters; fellow walkers, in a stay over in a bothy.

I’ve been travelling a lot last few years. I love travel and foreign countries and I’ve seen some beautiful landscapes.

But…

Gosh, Scotland is stunningly beautiful. And I wish I could describe how fresh and clean the air feels. Even compared to moderately clean air towns the air up in the highlands is so fresh. You feel high!

So I guess like many Scots, my heart really is in Scotland.

 

Hong Kong and 2 Photos, 2 Years Apart.

I came back to Hong Kong. The last time I was here was early 2014.

When I was here last time I took this picture from Kowloon of a Junk passing by. That’s Hong Kong Island in the background.

Now that I’m back I found that Hong Kong hasn’t changed too much.

In more or less the same location, but from a different angle and earlier in the day look what I saw:

I find myself stunned by the beauty of some of the views of the Hong Kong landscape. It’s a city of contrast though, the pure beauty of the landscapes belies some of the cramped, dirty, smelly streets crammed with people. Be ready for it if you visit.

 

A Short Trip to Asakusa

Today was a chill day. I didn’t have any exercise scheduled. My main plan was to study some Japanese and graphic design and to head over to Asakusa and maybe take a few photos.

To be honest, the day was a bit of a fail, I couldn’t concentrate at all and it was way too hot to walk around taking photos for a long time.

However, I did take a few shots in Asakusa. The area is famous for Sensoji 浅草寺 – it’s a temple complex that many people visit. There are a lot of shops selling traditional japanese products. There are also a lot of traditional restaurants.

You have probably seen the entrance gate to Sensoji before, it’s the one with the huge lantern. It’s often photographed super close up and you can see there are always lot’s and lot’s of people around it.

Here are three shots from around Sensoji.

Post those three shots I was sweating and uncomfortable so I took the train back to Shibuya to chill out.

Now I am enjoying a cold beer. Sometimes life is tough!

 

Hakka No Togame

 

My blog name may sound strange in English. The reason is it comes from Japanese. It has a special significance to me which involves an ex girlfriend, travel across the world and around one hundred and thirty hours of TV.

The Japanese Kanji for hakka no togame is 白霞罸.

The first two characters together represent the name Hakka (romaji) / はっか (hiragana). When two consonents  are written together in romaji to pronounce it pause slightly before the consonent and pronounce it sharply and clearly. Kind of like Ha-Ka rather than Haka.

Names in Japanese have underlying meaning, in the case of Hakka 白霞  – the meaning is 白 – white and 霞 -haze.

The third character 罸 means punishment, penalty, censure.

Therefore hakka no togame / 白霞罸 can be translated to something like ‘white haze punishment’.

Why on earth would I call my blog white haze punishment? We have to go back around ten years to answer that.

I moved to London when I was around 28. After moving to London I had what I would call my first real grown up relationship (girlfriend).

My girlfriend was called Corrine and was from Singapore.

We used to love going to cafe japan in north london to eat delicious Japanese food.

When we were relaxing at her apartment one night she put on an anime movie. The movie was one of the ‘Bleach’ films.

Bleach is a super popular long running anime which is now finished.

Read More »

Christmas in London – part II

I survived Christmas alone in London.

Actually; and I feel guilty saying this, it was delightful.

I missed my mum; it is a time when everyone is talking about family. However thanks to yoga, meditation, reading and learning I was able to keep a reasonable perspective. It’s just another day, I saw my mum recently, and I will see her again soon. The other matter; a girlfriend, hopefully I will meet someone I match with soon.

After I finished work at my client on Christmas eve I went to Wholefoods and treated myself to something fancy; sourdough fruit bread (ridiculous price), this was the first part of my plan for an awesome solo Christmas day. So next morning it came to be that I was lying cosily in bed watching a Xmas short animation with toasted fruit bread and coffee. Oh and my mum had sent me a gift to unwrap; a book, and I also had a box I sent myself; a new skateboard (uhm I am in my thirties in case you were wondering).

Afterwards I packed my camera, book and sketchpad. No transport in London on xmas day, but there are hire bikes. So I took one of those from my shared place in east London and went to holborn where part two of my plan went into action; to visit The Hoxton – a really cool hotel and have some food / coffee and a beer.

So technically I even exercised!

The rest of my day was spent walking, taking photos and enjoying a couple of beers on my part walk part hire cycle pub crawl around London.

It was rainy, but that’s cool, rain can give a nice shine to city streets as the sun goes down.

This was kind of enjoyable; way less stress than roasting a turkey and preparing all the trimmings.

First photos – covent garden:

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Regent street; where I was inspired to jump into traffic and crouch down to get the rear lights and side profile of an audi r8 in front of the xmas lights. The regent street lights this year didn’t look that great in focus, but came out really nice in soft focus:

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Just behind regent street, the famous carnaby street which always has beautiful decorations:

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As I was walking around Carnaby a lovely couple asked me to take their photos with their camera, I asked them if I could take a few with my own camera and they came out quite well:

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And on boxing day I got a few shots of the southbank:

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As I took photos and drank a couple of beers I felt really good. I just wish I could have shared the day with my mum and a special girl. But then, that’s an opportunity for next year. Hopefully I can arrange something like this together with people in the future.

It’s been a few months since I started this blog on WordPress and I had a bit of a break after the poetry challenge on writing 201 at the beginning. I’d really like to thank the WordPress community for their likes and comments and support so far.

I hope everyone here had a great Christmas day and that you are all enjoying your holidays.

Christmas in London

Too busy to write. Just over 4 weeks ago I started a new contract. Despite quite a bit of experience I still feel nervous at a new client. That’s my excuse for not posting on my blog.

But I want to write. I want to post. I miss it.

I hadn’t taken any photos in 4/5 weeks. I was starting to feel as though losing myself. I finally woke up and took my camera out on Saturday, the thought in mind; get some Christmassy photos:

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It was such a long time between my last and current client that I had to sell my Nikon D750 and now back to using my Nikon D3100, it’s good, but I really feel the lack of low light capability (w/out flash).

In other news; I am in a fight with consistency these days.

My mind is full of good thoughts and ideas; be happy in the present moment, learn/improve yoga / tai chi / gong fu / pilates, treat people kindly, be confident, express myself, eat well, live w/out too much ego, read a lot.

But despite my intentions, on a day to day basis, I forget, and I am lacking the will power and minute by minute presence to go in the right direction.

Lately I succumbed to drinking too many beers; eating chocolate, chain watching TV, being a little moody and not exercising regularly.

I feel kind of embarrassed. And frustrated; I know that every time I miss the mark, I weaken my resolve for the future. Days are passing by and I am not actively living the way I want to moment to moment.

I have a couple of nice Christmas photos from last year taken at Holborn in London:

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Can you tell that these two photos were taken with a more expensive camera? The lens is the same and I develop / process my photos in more or less the same way.

What are you planing for Christmas?

I was originally planning to visit Edinburgh for a few days. Then drive to  see my mum on Christmas day. But now I can’t visit. Or at least I thought I couldn’t and cancelled my reservations. Instead I was thinking about a trip to Germany or Austria for a few days. Or should I just stay here and save money. I still need to pay off some credit card bills following my long period w/out client work.

2015 has been a strange year. It started out with the worst flu ever; which I aggravated by taking a 3-changeover flight from Scotland to Hong Kong. Then I had some adventures for a few months; but that was followed by a bad decision about a girl and then a super difficult time finding a client.

I’m unsure about 2016, but I think I need to be more structured and brave in committing to things. This year I missed a lot of opportunities through indecisiveness. It was a little strange as it’s the first time in my life I found myself struggling to make decisions. It was almost paralysis.

I realise now how important it is to be brave; take a leap of faith and take risks.

Walk Around Shoreditch

I’d love to take you on a ‘blog photo walk’ around Shoreditch; my favourite parts of East London.

Historically a poor area, with low rents it became a hub for creatives. As can happen the art scene attracted others, prices started to rise and some have been priced out. But, to my mind, it now has a good mix of artists and creature comforts; good apartments, cafes, bars, restaurants, independent galleries and fashion stores.

I say Shoreditch, but I really mean a larger area which includes the north end of Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton and Dalston.

One of the main attractions in Shoreditch is the street art. The following picture showing the girl with the apple is by the French street artist Alice Pasquini:

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I was lucky enough to capture a local artist at work, the following pictures is saki & bitches:

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There’s a lot of street art to be found hidden away on side streets and next to parks. Maps can be found online and some locals operate street art tours.

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The character on the green wall below at eastern curve garden in Dalston and is by a famous artist called Stik, you may have seen his book:

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The art below can no longer be seen now that this area has been developed into new apartments:

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In addition to street art, there are a lot of galleries and studios around Shoreditch. A lot of local businesses are to do with illustration, animation, graphic design etc. If you walk around you can see into some pretty nice offices.

Myartinvest pictured below is a concept gallery where you can buy a share in artwork. Good idea if you can’t afford to buy whole artwork yourself but want to get involved.

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A central point in shoreditch is the overground station. That’s where Boxpark is situated; a container complex with small stores and places to eat. It hosts a mix of smaller independent brands and larger brands trying to catch some of the creative market.

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There are some quite cool places in east London, take for example Shoreditch House – a members club / hotel in a converted warehouse opposite Boxpark. The motorbike in the picture is in front of Cowshed Spa which is in Shoreditch House.

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There are lot’s of good places for coffee / cake and chill out in the area. A couple that I like are Fix Coffee and Close-Up Cinema / cafe both pictured.

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I don’t have pictures of all my favourite cafes and bars, but here is a list of places to check out:

– Jaguar Shoes Collective
– Attendant
– The Hoxton
– Ace Hotel
– Cream
– Barbour & Parlour
– Brick Lane Coffee
– Strongroom

It changes pretty quickly though, so expect new places to pop up and old favourites to close.

Around shoreditch and further up towards Dalston you also have vintage fashion stores and vinyl stores such as Love Vinyl and Blitz

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Cafe, bar and art aside one of the best things about this part of London is the traditional architecture; warehouses and town houses that can be found around brick lane for example.

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December 2016 Update – Additional Photos From 2016

Rivington street; one of the streets with a lot of art and cafes:

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A household goods store with a lovely tiled exterior:

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An extremely expensive chocolate shop, but with a beautiful window message:

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Some more street art by Stik on Rivington street:

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A beautiful sky above Boxpark:

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One of the charismatic local Bar Staff at Translate:

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Inside the pretty well known Cargo nightclub on Rivington Street:

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Jaguar Shoes Collective; my favourite bar which doubles as an art gallery and is disguised as an import fashion store:

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Do people buy their bikes to match up with local street art:

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Another Boxpark pic featuring the new Routemaster bus:

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The pizza often at the recently opened Homeslice. Best single slices of Pizza ever!

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Boxpark during Olympic celebrations.

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One of the many custom bikes you can see around Shoreditch

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Recently closed; Brick Lane Coffee, was one of the well known coffee shops around Brick Lane area, but the owners now run Jonestown Coffee just around the corner (I did the photos on their website!).

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That’s it for now.

Moganshan 50 Shanghai (M50)

I had a dream-like three weeks in shanghai earlier this year. I want to introduce you to m50; the contemperary art district.

Shanghai itself is a bit of an enigma, it’s China of course; but also very much it’s own place. The history is fascinating and provides background perspective on the modern day relationship between east and west. Shanghai also has it’s own dialect and other Chinese people may consider the Shanghainese as overly proud.

It’s a city of old and new, a city of hope, and also a city of hope lost. There is division of rich and poor that reminded me of my time in Russia years before. In big Chinese cities there is a context of rich people becoming super rich on massive growth vs. poor people arriving in the cities with nothing but hope. But there is a sense that anything can happen, although perhaps only to the lucky or entreprenuerial few.

When I was there I stayed in a traditional lilong / longdang apartment for two weeks and a more modern apartment in the french concession for one week. I like to avoid hotels or restaurants with other foreigners and stay local and eat local.

When I was in Shanghai I read the excellent five star billionaire by tash aw; which further lost me in the feeling of the city. I can’t recommend enough reading novels set in a place you are visiting.

There is so much to say about Shanghai, but I want to talk about Moganshan 50 in this post. It’s abbrievated as m50 and is the site of a former mill that is now a contemperary art district. It was perhaps my favourite place to visit.

The mill has been converted into a lot of individual galleries (over a hundred?). The art varies from traditional oil paintings to fairly ‘out there’ stuff. In addition to the galleries there are working art studios; you can see some artists at work. Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph any of the art itself.

When I was there I really wanted to buy some artwork; I had my eye on a few peices, but I just couldn’t afford it.

One of the best things about m50 is the aged industrial architecture, which I always thinks goes so well with art; particularly contemporary. This is why I like Tate Modern in London, the turbine hall is breathtaking; even if a lot of the art misses the mark to my taste.

There is also an excellent cafe at m50 – with wonton in soup to die for, not the main cafe at the entrance, just nearby at the side. It’s also an art bookstore.

If you visit Shanghai please be sure to go and have a look around m50.